The San Francisco 49ers brought back a familiar name in west coast football on Monday, signing former USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.
The signing comes after Lee took part in San Francisco’s rookie minicamp this past weekend, showing himself to be 100% in the process.
A second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars back in 2014, the 29-year-old Lee last played in the NFL in 2019. He appeared in just six games before suffering a knee injury. Lee’s best run came with Jacksonville in 2016 and 2017 when he recorded a combined 119 receptions for 1,553 yards before missing the entire 2019 campaign to injury.
After signing with the New England Patriots last offseason, the 6-foot Lee opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
If nothing else, this move provides the San Francisco 49ers with much-needed depth at wide receiver behind Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.
Whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo or rookie No. 3 pick Trey Lance under center in 2021, having more than two capable wide receivers will be a big deal. Below, we look at three moves San Francisco should still make ahead of the start of training camp in July.
San Francisco 49ers re-sign Richard Sherman
Earlier in the offseason, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Sherman would depart the 49ers after three seasons. They just didn’t have the necessary cap room to re-sign him with north of 40 other impending free agents. That’s no longer the case. The market has dried up when it comes to the future Hall of Fame cornerback. Meanwhile, Sherman has noted that he’d be “ecstatic” to return to the 49ers.
There’s certainly a need here. Even after re-signing fellow Pro Bowler Jason Verrett as well as Emmanuel Moseley and K’Waun Williams, the 49ers could use another starter out on the boundary. Adding corners Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir in the 2021 NFL Draft doesn’t do much to change this. Bringing Sherman back on a short-term, team-friendly deal makes sense.
San Francisco 49ers sign Golden Tate
Signing Lee could change the dynamics to an extent. He has the ability to play the slot — a position that’s pretty big in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. With that said, Lee can also excel as a boundary receiver. Fresh off the Cincinnati Bengals signing Trent Taylor on Monday and after San Francisco failed to add a receiver in the 2021 NFL Draft, this area becomes of utmost concern.
That’s where the 32-year-old Tate comes into play. The former Pro Bowl has been more productive than the recently-signed Mohamed Sanu. Prior to being released by the New York Giants earlier in the offseason, Tate had averaged 74 receptions for 872 yards since the start of the 2013 campaign. This would also be a reunion with Sherman stemming from their time together with the division-rival Seattle Seahawks.
San Francisco 49ers trade Jimmy Garoppolo
Hear us out. San Francisco did not use three first-round picks and a third-rounder on Trey Lance without expecting for the talented young quarterback to see playing time early in his career. Since making that selection, Shanahan has noted that the North Dakota State product could very well earn the Week 1 starting gig.
As for Jimmy Garoppolo, the selection of Lance was an indictment on his ability to stay healthy after missing 23 of a possible 48 games over the past three seasons. He’s also slated to count $26.38 million against the NFL salary cap in 2021. Should another starter around the league go down during training camp with Lance proving his worth as a starter, the San Francisco 49ers have to think long and hard about trading Garoppolo.